New directive issued to protect referees

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The Independent Football

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has revealed that a new directive has been issued to give referees more protection and respect this season.

At the official launch of the new season in London this morning, Scudamore said the 'Get on with the game' campaign would look to reduce the number of incidents of dissent towards officials from players and managers.

He told a news conference: "We've gone to the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB) and asked them what will help them.

"We came up with a reduction in disrespectful behaviour, turning backs on referees and we don't want players surrounding referees, as well as the conduct of managers.

"In post-match interviews we don't want to stamp out constructive criticism, but it's more about the colour and the disrespectful language."

Scudamore was joined by West Brom manager Roy Hodgson, and he endorsed the move.

"Referees are an integral part of our game and some times we are less kind to them than we should be," he said.

"We all make mistakes, managers, players and referees.

"If we are caught out letting our emotions run away with us, we know the day after we are wrong and that we shouldn't do it.

"These initiatives are really important and we really need to stress it."

Hodgson continued: "If you don't behave properly, how can you expect the younger people around you to behave properly?

"Maybe [we should] try to encourage players to stop seeing referees as some sort of fearful policeman-type figure who's got nothing to go with the game of football and embrace the fact he's there to do his job as well.

"He's got a performance to put on on a Saturday afternoon on which he's going to be judged and through which he'll either continue as a (top-flight) referee and go up the ladder or unfortunately, like the snake, slide down the ladder."

Scudamore is convinced the new initiative will lead to a reduction in incidents of match officials being disrespected.

"My confidence is born out of discussions we had over the summer," he said.

"We heralded the idea we were going to look at something over the summer. It's the first time we've met with all the player together. We met with [Professional Footballers' Association chief executive] Gordon Taylor, representatives of players from all the clubs. That was very positive.

"They to a man said the relationship between the referees and players had improved since the 2008 launch.

"They were keen to make sure we didn't throw all those things out. The players themselves understand.

"All the managers have been to pre-season meetings - again, very very constructive.

"My confidence comes from the willingness of those people to engage in this discussion.

"Of course we're all waiting on the first incident - there's always going to be incidents. We're looking to reduce the incidents, but we won't eliminate them."

Chelsea captain John Terry was also at the launch and immediately stated his desire to reclaim the Premier League trophy from Manchester United.

Terry has lifted the prize three times and his side pushed United all the way last season, before a defeat at Old Trafford in the penultimate game of the season ended their hopes.

The arrival of new manager Andre Villas Boas has given the club new direction, though, and Terry cannot wait to get going.

"The new manager has been great," the England skipper said.

"We had a great tour of Asia with all our games won. When Andre came in he expressed the importance of winning.

"We only won one game last pre-season. Andre has brought in new and fresh ideas that will hopefully take us through to the end of the season.

"He's got an emphasis and demeanour about him. A lot of the lads knew him from when he worked here with Jose (Mourinho) but he's gone away and done his own thing and we give him a lot of respect.

"I'm worried about a lot of teams this season. Everyone has strengthened. Manchester City and Manchester United have bought in some good players, Liverpool too. There are six or seven players who can really push and have a chance of winning the trophy.

"We can catch Manchester United. They have been the benchmark for 20 years. We pushed them to the end last season but missed out. We all see their quality and hunger they and their manager have.

"It drives me on and seeing them lift the trophy still hurts to this day. I want to get my hands back on it."

Terry has also been a leading voice in a new Premier League initiative.

At a conference call between all club captains, it was decided that the players would make personal donations to purchase kits for young players at a grassroots level.

"We had a really good meeting where we all spoke honestly," Terry added.

"We came up with an idea where each player puts in an amount to give you young kids at a grassroots level, for kits, equipment, to help them play.

"The next generation is the most important thing and this is something we can really give back. It was a no-brainer."

Terry was flanked by Manchester City coach Patrick Vieira, who will be in the dugout this season following a long and distinguished playing career.

The former France midfielder won the trophy three times with Arsenal, and will now be looking to help City to a maiden triumph.

Their Italian striker Mario Balotelli will be a key player in that quest, but question marks have been raised over his temperament.

Vieira, though, believes the 20-year-old is ready to shine.

"People forget how young he really is," he said. "I hope this year he will learn from his mistakes. He is a really talented footballer and I hope he can show everybody how good he is.

"I believe we improved last season, winning the FA Cup and finishing third, and I believe we can challenge Chelsea, United and the rest of the teams."

While Tottenham will not be in action this opening weekend after their clash with Everton was postponed owing to the violence in London, their captain Michael Dawson laid down his side's plans to reclaim a top-four spot.

Spurs enjoyed a thrilling first Champions League campaign last season, but failed to re-qualify, something Dawson wants to put right.

"We had some great nights and went to some great places and it's where we want to play football," he said.

"We're aiming to break in again. But Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool.. everybody wants to be in the top four.

"We've got a fantastic squad, looking around the dressing room, and the chairman and the manager are trying to improve it all the time."

Chelsea have had two unsuccessful bids for Dawson's team-mate Luka Modric this summer, and the England international is glad they have failed in their pursuit.

"I certainly hope he will stay," he added. "The chairman said he was not going to sell him and hopefully we can keep him."

Vieira hailed the kit scheme, saying all the players were proud to be a part of it.

"It's really important because the kids love the game and recognise the players as role models," said the former France captain.

"What is very important is that all the players from different clubs have come together for the same project. That makes it very special. We're really proud to be part of this."

Dawson said: "It's great. When the lads spoke about doing this we didn't have to think twice. A lot of players have their own charities - certainly at Tottenham we have the SOS village in South Africa which the lads fund; we sponsor each child on a yearly basis - and this is great from the Premier League."

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